Nice manager’s early Saliba verdict complements Arteta and Edu’s stance

William Saliba has been given a glowing review, as he looks to kick-start his career back in France.

The 19-year-old has joined Nice on loan for the rest of the campaign, with Arsenal bosses hoping to see a rapid development in the central defender.

Saliba was signed for £27million in the summer of 2019, before being sent back to Saint-Etienne on loan for the season.

However, a combination of injuries and the Covid-19 outbreak, restricted the Frenchman to just 12 appearances.

That meant Mikel Arteta didn’t feel he had built up the kind of experience that could see him make an impact on the first team at the Emirates.

Arteta subsequently decided to keep him out of the senior set-up in the opening months of the season.

After failing to secure a move back to France in the summer, Saliba joined Nice earlier this week.

And after completing the deal, Nice boss Adrian Ursea has backed his new signing to make a massive impact, with the belief he can quickly become a leader in the dressing room.

“He can bring us a lot of things, on the defensive side and in terms of our playing style and initiating moves,” Ursea told Nice TV.

“He can also be very precious to us in set pieces, an area where we have suffered a lot, even though that has been a little less the case in recent matches, which is perhaps due to our changes in terms of the organisation.

“His arrival will create movement in our defence. We lost Dante, we are still waiting for the leaders to show themselves.”

He added: “William is a player with a lot of personality, a personality that didn’t waste any time in revealing himself. With what he showed before leaving for England, honestly, talk about his age, I don’t even take that into account.

“Either a player is good or not, that is what interests me. It is not easy to succeed in Saint-Etienne’s defence, no matter your age.”

Arteta and technical director Edu opted to not put and purchase option in Saliba’s deal, with the expectation he could be around the starting XI next season.

Does William Saliba have a future at Arsenal? Have your say here.

Edu said: “William Saliba is a player with a huge amount of talent and potential. We’re confident he will have a great career with us but we must remember that he is still only 19 years old and has a lot of time ahead of him," Edu said.

“William experienced a very challenging time last year, with his playing time limited by injury and the early ending of the Ligue 1 season due to the pandemic.

“So together with William, we have decided that spending the rest of the season on loan with Nice is the best way for him to develop.

“We will be keeping in close contact with William during his time with Nice and look forward to seeing him make good progress until the end of the season.”

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